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Rasha Shehada: Uniting different goals to achieve a common objective
By Alyazya Alkhazraji
American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumna Rasha Shehada, Managing Director of Diamond Line, joined Dr. Rodrigo Basco, Associate Professor of Management and Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al-Qassimi Chair in Family Business, and a room of exceptional students over breakfast in a conversation regarding the importance of fulfilling various goals in family firms.
Hosted by the Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al-Qassimi Chair in collaboration with the Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs, the meeting touched on several key aspects that distinguish family businesses from other corporate entities.
The innovative businesswoman brought a humanist aspect to the discussion touching on mistakes, temptations, and the unique situations in which family businesses operate. Being a daughter, a sister, and a mother and the third generation to inherit and run the company, she explained the importance of acceptance, understanding and agreements that âstem from love.â She stressed the importance of these elements for all the participants involved in the business.
Through sharing her succession journey, filled with conflicts, mistakes, and learning curves, Shehada showed students her light-bulb moment of discovering that acceptance is vital to the businessâs growth and family cohesiveness.
Through her story, we learned that when families unite with the intention of accepting one anotherâs visions, interests, and expectations, family disagreements transform into grounds to support one another.
âI have another dream,â a phrase that often ignites conflicts can become the driving force for growth. These four words were her tool in persuading her father to continue the story of the second generation in Diamond Line.
Being human, people desire to create change and leave their distinctive fingerprints on their businesses. Nurturing their dreams and unique visions for the company allows it to grow.
âWe can go fast alone or we can go (further) together,â she said.
By the end of her inspirational story, Shehada underlined how a positive shift in approaching disagreements prompted her family to diversify the business and attain further success. Today, under Rasha Shehadaâs leadership, Diamond Line, which is headquartered in the UAE, competes internationally.
Following her speech, an informative Q&A session tackled topics ranging from how to balance family and work to dealing with conflict from outsiders.
Shehada reminded us that as human beings, we live and work under circumstances that revolve heavily around emotions and close relationships. She encouraged us to be fearless in the face of bad decisions: âDonât be scared to make mistakes but be courageous to admit those mistakes.â
Shehada was listed by Forbes 2013 as one of the most influential Arab women in family business in the Middle East. In 2015, she was included in the BBCâs 100 Women program as part of 30under30.
Shehada graduated from AUS in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication degree. However, she found her calling in her family business, preserving and continuing her fatherâs legacy.
To conclude the event, Dr. Basco highlighted the significance of integrating the new generations of family business in the Arab world by emphasizing three major elements: cultivating effective communication among different generations; respecting tradition and preserving cultural values and principles; and being open to new ideas. These are crucial to leading the change in creating economic and social possibilities for everyone who seeks to be part of the ecosystem.
The breakfast meeting is part of many activities that the Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al-Qassimi Chair in Family Business organizes to provide sustainable support to family firms. Its research centers on creating value for business families and regional communities to achieve its mission to connect past, present, and future family generations.